Pakistani top military spy agency has arrested some of the Pakistani informants who fed information to the Central Intelligence Agency in the months leading up to the raid on May 2 that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
The arrested informants include the owner of a safe house rented to the CIA to observe Usama bin Laden’s compound before the U.S. raid that killed the Al Qaeda leader and a Pakistani army major who officials said copied the license plates of cars visiting bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan in the weeks before the raid.
The fate of the detained informants remains unknown. This topic was raised by CIA Director Leon Panetta during his visit to Islamabad where he met with Pakistani military and intelligence officers. Last week, at a closed Senate Intelligence Committee briefing, Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell rated Pakistan’s cooperation with the United States on counterterrorism operations a “three” on a scale of 1 to 10, the Times reported.
At the same time other CIA officials confute this information. Marie E. Harf, a C.I.A. spokeswoman said: “We have a strong relationship with our Pakistani counterparts and work through issues when they arise. Director Panetta had productive meetings last week in Islamabad. It’s a crucial partnership, and we will continue to work together in the fight against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups who threaten our country and theirs.”
Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, said in an telephone interview that the CIA and the Pakistani spy agency “are working out mutually agreeable terms for their cooperation in fighting the menace of terrorism. It is not appropriate for us to get into the details at this stage.”
The United States kept Islamabad unaware about the May 2 raid by Navy SEALs until it was completed. Thus the United States humiliated Pakistan’s armed forces and put U.S. military and intelligence ties under serious strain. Some in Washington see the arrest as another sign of the deep disconnect between U.S. and Pakistani priorities in the fight against extremists, the Times reported.
During past several weeks Pakistani military forces have been distancing from American intelligence and counterterrorism operations. This made many Washington officials angry, because they believe that with the death of Bin Laden Al Qaeda is vulnerable and with more raids there exist the possibility of weakening the terrorist organization.
In the past months American officials have been saying that Pakistani spies from the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, known as the ISI, have been generally unwilling to perform out surveillance operations for the CIA it was also admitted that the Pakistanis have also resisted issuing visas that allow American intelligence officers to operate in Pakistan, and have threatened to put greater restrictions on the drone flights.
A Pentagon program of training Pakistani paramilitary troops to fight Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan’s lawless tribal regions bordering Afghanistan has ended. US military advisers have left the country. And according to the Times the CIA was preparing to move some of its drones from Pakistan to a base in Afghanistan. It will be done in order to examine the mountainous tribal areas along the border. [via The NY Times, Google and Reuters]